Thursday 31 July 2014

38th Ottawa Battalion's Journey from Bermuda to the Somme

Pinhey's Point Foundation is hosting a lecture on Aug. 22 about the 38th Ottawa Battalion's journey from Bermuda to the Sommeduring the Great War (and currently have an exhibit on this subject on view at Pinhey's Point Historic Site).  

Many Ottawans are descended from members of this locally-raised regiment (now the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa).  
For more information:



Fall Colloquium - Pinhey's Point Foundation


Colloquium, exhibit and tours

Friday, September 26 and Saturday, September 27, 2014 

Stiff Bros., stereoview of Earnscliffe, c1872. LAC PA-012694.

“Twelve years ago, the number of stone houses did not exceed 25, all except two or three of the coarsest rubble work: now they may be counted by hundreds.  Hitherto the prevailing material has been cut limestone….  Black Trenton, with Nepeansandstone dressings, for gentlemen’s houses, chiefly in the Tudor style, is much in vogue, and the effect is very pleasing.”   ~Dr S.C. Sewell, 1864 

A dozen stone villas combined a revolutionary floor plan with fashionable Tudor style.  Their distinctive and unusual ‘pinwheel’ plan originated in Englandwith the father of the Gothic Revival, A.W.N. Pugin.  The English architects who came to Ottawa in the 1850s to compete for the Parliamentary contract brought this form with them.  The houses they designed for the leaders of local society, including the Pinhey, Hill, and Christie families, did much to vitalize the residential architecture of the dawning capital. 

Lectures by Dr Timothy Brittain-Catlin, University of Kent Schoolof Architecture
                 David Jeanes, Vice-President, Heritage Ottawa
                 Ian Badgley, Archaeologist, National Capital Commission 

                         For information:



Tuesday 29 July 2014

Tombstone Tuesday - David Hume

This tomb belongs to one of the important Scottish Game Changers:  David Hume

David Hume was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist known especially for his ph...ilosophical empiricism and scepticism. 

 David Hume's aim was to found the 'Science of Man' - the study of human nature by scientific means. He was one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment.

A statue of Hume stands on the Royal Mile.


His tomb, which is quite grand, is in the Old Calton Cemetery in Edinburgh


Tombstone Tuesday - William Miller - "Wee Willie Winkie"

This monument stands atop a hill in the Glasgow Necropolis.

William Miller is perhaps best known for his children's nursery rhyme:
Wee Willie Winkie rins through the toon,
Up stairs an' doon stairs in his nicht-gown,
Chappin' at the window, crying thru the lock,
"Are the we'ans in their bed, for it's now ten o'clock?"

Monday 28 July 2014

Ancestor Trading Cards - Engaging the Next Generation

A great activity to engage kids in family history is the use of trading cards. This is also a great activity for youngsters at family reunions. They can, on their level, share ancestor information with cousins while the adults share research details, databases, scandals and whatever else they choose to share at family reunions.

The advantage of the Ancestor Trading Cards is that they are short and sweet. They offer key information, include a picture and a bit of biographical information, and are easily manipulated by school aged kids. The cards can be sorted according to surname or matched up with parents, spouses or children. For your brickwalls, you can leave a clue to see if the kids can brainstorm what they think might have happened or where an answer to the question might be found.  

These Ancestor Trading Cards are easy to make and take. An interactive online trading card generator can be found at:

You can add in that this person is an ancestor, and the generator will walk you through some questions that will allow details of their life to be filled in on the card.

Or you can create your own cards with any card creator software program. There are a number of free downloads available for this purpose.

Happy creating!

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Create Your Own Who Do You Think You Are Ancestral Journey

There is no greater feeling than walking in the footsteps of your ancestors. YOU can create your own Who Do You Think You Are journey by joining a Genealogy Tours of Scotland ancestral research trip to Scotland.

Spend time in the archives. Find and read the documents, flesh out the story with land records, maps, newspapers, trade journals and more. Travel to the area of Scotland where YOUR ancestor lived and walk in their footsteps.

Visit their churches, walk the streets they walked, pay homage to them at their gravesite.

All of these things will help you to not only uncover the story and journey of YOUR ancestor, but will help to redefine who YOU are as well.

Give yourself the gift of heritage. Journey to Scotland and find out more about your Scottish ancestor.

Book now at:

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Tombstone Tuesday - Prehistoric Cairns

Just a mile down the road from Culloden Battlefield, near Inverness, Scotland lie a series of pre-historic cairns. Called the Balnuaran of Clava Cairns or simply, the Clava Cairns, these prehistoric structures are still in amazing condition.

It is estimated that these cairns are roughly 4,000 years old - older than the pyrmaids.

The North-East Cairn and South-West Cairn, are well-preserved passage cairns. The cairns are aligned to the mid-winter solstice. These cairns likely only housed one body each. Standing stones surround the cairns as protection.

These standing stones were added much later.

This central cairn is a circle with no opening or passage. It is thought that this was likely a fire ring where ceremonies were held in conjunction with the burials in the two passage cairns.

This kerb cairn was added most recently (3000 years ago) and may have originally provided an outline for a low earth mound or shallow grave.

What amazed me most about the cairns was that they were still relatively in tact, lying in a field, surrounded by farmland. For 4,000 years, they have been seen as sacred ground and so have been given a place of honour, and have been left in solitude. Had they been in North America, they would have been cleared eons ago and a subdivision would now stand in their place. Here's to the Scots for recognizing the importance of these pre-historic structures and for preserving them for future generations to enjoy and honour as well.


Monday 21 July 2014

The Oathing Stone

A little known tradition in Scottish history is that when a couple married near a stone, it was believed that their vows were more binding. It became customary, then, for the couple to each place a hand on the same stone as they pledged their oath, thereby, setting their vows in stone.

Saturday 19 July 2014

Give Yourself the Gift of Heritage - Join Us For An Ancestral Trip to Scotland

Most of us are at a stage of our lives now where we can focus less on family and work and more on ourselves. To some it has been a long time coming. So, now that time is less of a constraint, why not give yourself the gift of connecting with your ancestral heritage?

Come to Scotland. Take time in the archives. Research your roots. Tour your ancestral

villages, towns, graveyards. Learn the history and culture. Feel more connected, more

rooted. Create a memory of a lifetime. Bring a friend or partner along to share the journey.

Non-genealogy partners travel for half price.


When You Join a Genealogy Tour of Scotland, You Get:


v     Pre-tour webinar on Scottish Genealogy Research

v     Pre-tour webinar on Planning For a Research Trip to Scotland

v     Pre-tour assistance to make the most of your time in Scotland

v     Pre-tour package of information to assist with your research planning

v     9 nights in a centrally located hotel where you will get the sense of living in Scotland

v     Breakfast every day

v     A Family History Talk at ScotlandsPeople Centre

v     A Family History Talk at the National Library of Scotland

v     5 days of dedicated research time where staff are expecting you and are ready to assist

v     Transportation to and from the research facilities

v     Time to visit the area where your ancestor lived in Scotland and assistance to plan this

v     25% discount at Borders Journeys Ancestral Tours

v     Time to research in a local archive, family history society or library

v     The chance to experience a Ceilidh and indulge your Scottish heritage

v     Transportation to and from the Ceilidh

v     Optional historic evening tours in Old Town Edinburgh

v     A great way to connect with your Scottish ancestors

v     Memories to last a lifetime


Why not join a tour to research your roots and discover your heritage?


The April 2015 tour includes registration at the Scottish Association of Family History Societies annual conference to be  held in Stirling.


There is also the opportunity to attend the Who Do  You Think You Are Live event in Birmingham, scheduled for the three days prior to the Genealogy Tour of Scotland.


Spaces are limited! Book now at:

Thursday 17 July 2014

Were Your Scottish Ancestors Barbers?

The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, Edinburgh, has in its special collections, the Records of the Society of Barbers.


Here is a list of the records on hand: 


You can contact them at:


For those with Glasgow ancestors who worked as Barbers, you can get information through Google Books at:

Wednesday 16 July 2014

Is a Genealogy Research Trip to Scotland on YOUR Bucket List?

At Genealogy Tours of Scotland, (, we provide you with protected time at the ScotlandsPeople Centre, the Scottish Genealogy Centre and the National Library of Scotland. These are all based in Edinburgh and while on the tour, you will receive personal assistance from the archivists in each location. 

In addition to the repository visits, time is available to travel to the area of Scotland where your ancestors lived. I provide connections to ancestral tour companies, run by genealogists in Scotland, who will give you a personalised tour of your ancestors home area including graveyards, churches, streets, business and anything else you may wish to see that is still standing. 

If a genealogy research visit to Scotland is on your bucket list, contact me and I can assist you to make the most of your ancestral visit. ( I'm looking forward to sharing your genealogical adventures with you!

Ship's List for John & Sara

In 1653, 270 Scots were led aboard the “John & Sara” which set sail for Boston. The ship’s list of the John & Sara has been transcribed and can be found at:


Did Your Ancestors Arrive on the UNITY?

Following the Battle of Dunbar in 1650, over 10,000 Scots had been captured and imprisoned. In fairly short order, 150 of the healthiest men were gathered, taken to London and then shipped on the Unity to New England, arriving in Massachusetts. For a list of Scottish Prisoners of War from the Battle of Dunbar and subsequent listing of men who were transported, this website is incredibly helpful:

Tuesday 15 July 2014

Limited Spaces Remain for 2015 Genealogy Research Trip to Scotland

If you wait, it may be too late!

Following a very successful trip to Bruce County, which boasts a rich Scottish history, spaces on the April 2015 Genealogy Research Tour are filling quickly. Only THREE spaces remain for the 2015 tour. 

If traveling to Scotland to conduct family history research, accessing records not available online and visiting the land of your ancestors is on YOUR bucket list, you won't want to miss out on this opportunity. The next scheduled trip will not be until May 2016 and will not include the SAFHS conference. 

Don't wait. Book your space NOW:


Tombstone Tuesday - I Am a Taphophile

I am a Taphophile. Perhaps even at a certifiable level. And as I look back on my life, I'm pretty certain this addiction was passed down from my dad. 

What is a Taphophile?

•A Taphophile is someone with a passion for and enjoyment of cemeteries.
•Taphophilia involves epitaphs, photography, brass rubbing, art, and history of deaths.
•A Taphophile describes someone who travels to visit cemeteries for the enjoyment of looking at old and unusual stones.
•Taphophiles are usually more interested in the historical aspects of cemeteries or graves than they are in the people who are buried within.

Most Sunday afternoons, my dad and I hiked the woods along the base of the escarpment and always ended up in the  local cemetery. We would walk the rows of headstones and grave markers, take note of newly laid graves or large amounts of flowers that had been laid, usually signalling that a funeral had taken place in recent days. That was the start of a lifelong addiction.  

And I find as my interest in genealogy grows, my addiction deepens. One of my favourite indulgences when I go to Scotland each year is to take in different cemeteries. To some people, these cemeteries are creepy wee places. Full of horror, ghosts and maybe even the odd poltergeist. As I wander around them, I am in awe at the history laying beneath the earth. The names of major players in Scotland's history. Top scholars, fathers of free thinking, inventors, famous physicians, philosophers, poets, authors. Each cemetery is a history book.  

My addiction has expanded. I am not just using the gateway fixes of cemeteries anymore, but now include battlefields, memorials and even pre-historic cairns. The richer the history, the deeper I am hooked.

Any other taphophiles out there?  I have thought of starting a self help group. But how would we meet? In a cemetery? With a pen and scribbler? Cameras at the ready?









Monday 14 July 2014

Edinburgh Well Heads

At the foot of Castle Esplanade, where it connects to the Royal Mile once sat a reservoir known as Castlehill Reservoir. This reservoir was fed by springs and streams from the Pentland Hills. This reservoir was the source of water supply for the old, walled town. There are a series of well heads along the Royal Mile and one in GrassMarket which once provided drinking and washing up water to the inhabitants of the City.  

These wells were built in the 1685 by Master Mason, Robert Milne. People would gather at the well head to gather their water supply. Because the wellheads provided a place for people to gather, it was a place of gossip and a great place to catch up on all that was new with the other inhabitants - illnesses, relationships, new babies, scandals and indiscretions. 

The water was pulled up from the wells by way of narrow necked buckets known as "stoups" (the bucket would be stouped doon the well to collect the water). These buckets would then be carried back to the tenement for use by the residents.  

During the summer months when the City declared rationing, the wells would only be open from midnight until 3am. Long lines could be expected as the poorer inhabitants gathered to get their share before the water ran out. In the anxiety of not knowing whether water would be available, many scuffled and fights often broke out.  

The City's elite hired others to fetch water for them. These men were knows as "Caddies" who would have a special barrel to collect and carry the water. The barrel would be strapped to their backs to better distribute the weight as they then delivered it to their benefactors.  

Although long decommissioned, with the advent of indoor plumbing, these well heads remain intact and are a visual reminder of the harsher times in which our ancestors lived.

West Bow Well in Grassmarket.

Lawnmarket Well Head on the Royal Mile

Saturday 12 July 2014

National Library of Scotland Honour Rolls

The National Library of Scotland has digitized and made freely available online, their collection of honour rolls for WWI. These records are indexed alphabetically by either place or organization. The rolls contain names of casualties and those who fell in active duty.

The rolls are a collection from organizations such as schools, universities, clans, businesses and churches from across Scotland.

Here's the link:

Thursday 3 July 2014

Heading to the Highlands - Games That Is

This weekend is the annual Highland Games and Scottish Festival in Kincardine Ontario. Kincardine has a rich Scottish heritage with many of the first settlers having emigrated from Scotland. Some with the Selkirk Settlers, who later migrated to Bruce County. Some with the Lewis Settlers, Scots emigrants from the Isle of Lewis, who migrated to Bruce County from the Eastern Townships of Quebec. The land along the shores of Huron county are rich and arable and the highland farmers adapted quickly to their new surrounds.

Every Saturday night, there is a Pipe Band Parade in Kincardine. So, if you are within driving distance, why not take a dander up and get your Scottish on. I will be offering a workshop tomorrow afternoon on Scottish Genealogy Research. And will be at a booth on Sunday. So, if you are at the Festival, make sure to come up and say "hello"

Wednesday 2 July 2014

Edinburgh's Witches Well

Just outside the walls of Edinburgh Castle, as you come off the Esplanade and onto the Royal Mile, there is a cast iron wall fountain which commemorates the place where over three hundred women were burned at the stake after accused of witchery.  

In the 1500s, more witch burnings were carried out at Castlehill than anywhere else in the country. The accused suffered brutal torture before being put to death at the stake.  

Often the women were strangled first and then their bodies were burned.  

If your ancestors were accused of witchcraft, here is a link that may be helpful in your Scottish research:


Inchcolm Abbey

Inchcolm Abbey is a well preserved medieval church, dating from 1235 when the church, originally established as a priory by David I became an abbey. The Augustinian canons settled here enjoying both the island’s isolation and its tranquility.

After the Protestant Reformation of 1560 brought monastic life to an end, the island continued to serve in the defence of Edinburgh. Repeatedly attacked by English raiders during the Wars of Scottish Independence, it was fortified during both World Wars. Today there is a visitor centre and the island and the Abbey are open to tourists via boats leaving from Queensferry.

Tuesday 1 July 2014

Tombstone Tuesday - Cemetery for Soldier's Dogs Edinburgh Castle

A small garden past the parapets at Edinburgh Castle is the final resting place of the canine companions of the regimental officers. This garden is out of reach for visitors so is serene and well maintained. It can be viewed from above. The cemetery has been in place since the time of Queen Victoria in 1840.